November 14, 2019, 12:23:45 PM

Author Topic: Writers Object To Film Adaptations  (Read 1985 times)

Offline ultamentkiller

Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« on: January 21, 2016, 03:26:44 AM »
Today I started wondering why more authors didn't speak out against a terrible film adaptation. Yes, I get that they make a ton of money and get much more exposure for it. But, as an artist, how can you not feel violated when someone else takes your work and completely messes it up, ignoring suggestions you make along the way?
Me? I would tell all my fans from the moment I saw it to not go to the theater and see it. I would inform them how the vision of my work was lost, and it will only bring about a ton of misconceptions about the book series. I would go to the highest mountain, scream it to the rooftops, everything I could. But not many writers have done this. So few, in fact, that when I googled it, I found articles like, "10 authors who rejected their film adaptation." Only ten? Now, those 10 who rejected them were very passionate. The one that stuck in my mind was Stephen King's The Shining, but there was some other guy who refused to accept any money from his adaptation's success. That's passion, and that's exactly something I would do.
Which brings up the question. Why don't others do it? Is it because they sign some contract saying they can't speak out against it? Is it because they're so low on money, they have no choice? Is it because they just want to get famous? So, I bring this question to you dedicated people out there who would love to be a professional writer one day. If your book was adapted into a screenplay, and by the end of the project you still hated it, would you speak out against it? Even if you did sign a contract, would you inform all of your fans and the news how terrible this movie/TV show is compared to the book, and that you never would've signed on if you had known it would be so terrible?

Offline Elfy

  • Writing contest regular
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 7196
  • Total likes: 758
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Purple Dove House
Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2016, 05:11:43 AM »
The last person I can remember doing it was Anne Rice. She was initially horrified when they cast Tom Cruise as Lestat, although she came around when she actually saw the film. I still think they got it wrong and wish that they'd cast David Bowie. The way he looked in The Hunger was how I saw Lestat. Interesting Anne Rice said she pictured him as Rutger Hauer, yet the character is described as looking androgynous and I've never seen Rutger Hauer like that. Alan Moore has gone on record as being disappointed with the filmed versions of his work and doesn't want any more to be made. Peter O'Donnell was the same with the filmed versions of Modesty Blaise, although I still think if someone did that right, it would be amazing.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline Lanko

  • Sherlanko Holmes, Jiin Wei and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Khaleesi
  • *
  • Posts: 2875
  • Total likes: 1966
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Lanko's Goodreads
Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2016, 06:10:02 AM »
Sure, authors like King can do that without a problem. By the time it was recorded, he and his grand-grandsons already had more money than they could possibly spend.

I heard the guy who wrote a book that inspired the Matrix refused to be a consultant for the brothers because he said the brothers inspired the movie on his work (Simulacrum & Simulation), but didn't understood it. He even said that he had nothing to do with kung fu.
 
I thought it was pretty stupid and just showed a narrow vision. It showed lack of perception about a great opportunity. The evidence that, though the movie, he would have the chance to reach an infinitely greater audience than he normally would, and thus, his ideas would have the effect he desired.
Even if they failed to make into the movie, he would be able to properly explain or go further with them. More people would be interested and would see what he tried to do, and if it was or was not properly blended in the movie.

He lacked the permission of allowing himself to leave the contemplative life of writer to the active one, to allow himself to be put into the system's machine, with the purpose to break it, even if it was to stop its clogs after he got smashed by it.

Some authors just have excessive fondness of their work and become blind to see the bigger picture.

Be assured that fans and reviewers will comment on the differences between movie/book. You wont need to scream about it, no matter how much you hate it. And different people are touched by different things.

To say that the money doesn't matter and art and passion is everything is very romantic, but naive. It's easy to say this like a fan/reader.
Think like an author who received something like a $20k advance, divided into 4 distant payments and royalties that are held up (specially against returns) for as long as possible.
Then your book is gonna become a movie, with the chance to attract a lot of attention and bring more people to know about your work. Not to mention the money.

And then you show the finger. Sure, it may look romantic, but that really won't make me buy more or less books from that author.

Also, think about it: authors don't even have control of their covers, why do you think they would have script and filming control?
And I'm pretty sure they know about it, and their opinion is taken into account merely out of courtesy, nothing more, or just like the cover, it would take forever to do anything until most authors are 100% perfectly satisfied.

I would never condone an author because of a bad movie of their book, be it a newbie or a multimillionaire one.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 06:11:38 AM by Lanko »
Slow and steady wins the race.

Lanko's Year in Books 2019

Offline AshKB

Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2016, 06:22:33 AM »
It generally strikes me as being very unprofessional, actually. The negotiations have been done, the contact's been made, you've been paid a not inconsiderable sum of money: done is done. Next time, do the negotiations better to keep in the core aspects of the work, and realize that adaptations are adaptations and things are going to change.

Additionally, just because the author hates it does not actually make it a bad adaptation. It might not be their vision, but they didn't sign up for someone else to bring their vision to life, they signed a contact that in most cases states that someone else will bring their vision of the work to life. Also, an author can actively hinder the adaptation by interfering, making the movie or tv series full or not yet fully formed as its own thing. Not to argue about Fifty Shades of Grey quality, but the director had a vision for the movie which would have been very interesting and taken good ideas from the books and brought them out more - and E.L. James refused, because she'd been granted so much power she could go 'nope, do it like this'. Arguably, the movie is a lot worse for it.

And an author going on and on about how AWFUL a movie is, is...well. It's unprofessional. People put a lot of time, money, and effort into working on that, and you as the author are throwing it back into their faces. Not to mention that public hissy-fits are not exactly endearing to people who might love that movie, and want to read more - well, now they know what you the author think of them. There are other things to read.

There are more politic ways of acknowledging displeasure. Nothing wrong with an author not like an adaptation, but, shouting it from the mountain-tops?

Nah, pass.
The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted - Plutarch

I not only use all the brains I have, but all that I can borrow - Woodrow Wilson

Offline Lanko

  • Sherlanko Holmes, Jiin Wei and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Khaleesi
  • *
  • Posts: 2875
  • Total likes: 1966
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Lanko's Goodreads
Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2016, 06:42:17 AM »
Also, I'm gonna point out that some authors become so fond of their work that they don't or refuse to see things that are actually pretty bad.

In Star Wars, time and time again Harrison Ford would come to Lucas and say to him "George, you can write this shit, but you can't speak it". And then Ford would make his own changes to his character. As far as I know, Han Solo is a very well-loved character.

The prequels didn't had anybody to stand up to Lucas. I tried to read Star Wars and couldn't go past page 50.

Another thing to consider is that movies have a very limited budget and room to maneuver (2h, mostly). So authors have to be mature enough to recognize and accept some things will need to be modified or cut.

Example: Jurassic Park. Remember that guy who cowardly abandoned the kids in the car and was eaten by the T-Rex while having a dump?
Surprise: in the books he (Gennaro) was a major character, actually hunted a T-Rex and was physically very strong and never abandoned the kids, much less died having a dump.

Some other major characters died like poor supporting characters. And characters that didn't do much, or were even dead in the book, assumed major roles, and vice-versa. Some were not even mentioned (the cast was not small in the book). However, visually, those characters would be more interesting to see (and they were right).

Don't think Michael Crichton or fans were screaming about Spielberg butchering Jurassic Park.
In fact, the movie attracted tons of fans that would never even hear of the book anyway. It gave Crichton a huge boost as well.
And I'm sure the money allowed him to safely write full-time, which is a great thing. We wish more authors could do the same, isn't that right?
Imagine if Crichton decided to give the finger and call the whole thing off.

About The Shining and Stephen King, a lot of fans actually said the changes on the movie were really great and removed some clumsiness and holes of the book.
Well, there are actually more than one version of The Shining, so I don't know which one you are talking about.

Sure, I totally understand the frustrations of seeing a bad movie of something you loved, or a character/scene that received major changes, and not saying it's wrong, but it's something they have to deal with it.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Lanko's Year in Books 2019

Offline Nora

  • Dropped in from another planet avec son sourire provocateur - et Hades and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4584
  • Total likes: 3529
  • Gender: Female
  • The Explorer
    • View Profile
Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2016, 08:29:45 AM »
Huh... In the case of Jurassic Park, I wouldn't say that the cast modifications are what's glaringly wrong. It's that the book comes with a message of science and ethics and morals (philosophy), especially though Malcolm, which is put at the 10th place in the film to leave room to entertainment.

But then some adaptations are great, or so clearly "inspired" rather than true to the book, that you can't go angry with them.

I think I'd negotiate to be quite involved in the script of any movies done from my books (hey, one can dream) and would definitely turn down some directors. But otherwise... Ah yes, I really think you gotta live with it. Nobody forces you to sell the rights to your book either.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Online ScarletBea

  • Welcome party and bringer of Cake. 2nd-in-Command of the Writing Contest
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 11171
  • Total likes: 6455
  • Gender: Female
  • Geeky Reading Introvert
    • View Profile
    • LibraryThing profile
Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2016, 08:41:13 AM »
I see both points of view.

I read ultament's post and kept going 'oh so right, they're ruined my (their) vision'. Then I read Ash's post and thought 'oh gosh, she does have a point'.

So I think it may be one of those things where you only know how you'd react if you've been there. And maybe the time to complain is during the discussions and negotiations stage, trying to retain as much control as you can, and if not, and if you don't feel comfortable with it, not accept/go forward with it.
At home in the Fantasy Faction forum!

"Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all" - Douglas Adams

Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2016, 08:48:04 AM »
I'd imagine that's usually because they are contractually obliged not to bad-mouth a film adaption. And it's not just writers: anybody that has seen interviews with Bruce Willis for Die Hard 5 must have realised that there was a man contractually obliged to fly all over the world praising that heap of crap while hating it.

Unless your book is wildly popular and film makers bend or break the usual rules in order to obtain the rights (50 Shades for example, and see how that turned out), well, you're out of luck with any real control over the results. Those who stump up the money to make it have that control.

In addition, most novel writers won't have experience of adapting for film/TV so are happy to back away and let other professionals do their thing adapting it for different media.

The Traitor God & God of Broken Things

Offline CryptofCthulhu

Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2016, 10:25:40 AM »
Where Stephen King is concerned, I've found most of the film and TV adaptations of his books to be more enjoyable than the original books.
“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.” ~ William S. Boroughs

Online Yora

Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2016, 10:57:06 AM »
If someone makes a movie of your books and then you sabotage the success of the movie, you're probably not going to be asked for a movie deal again.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline CryptofCthulhu

Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2016, 12:08:47 PM »
If someone makes a movie of your books and then you sabotage the success of the movie, you're probably not going to be asked for a movie deal again.

True. Just let the fans trash it if it is a disgrace of an adaptation. Prevents a lot of headaches.
“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.” ~ William S. Boroughs

Offline ultamentkiller

Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2016, 04:05:07 PM »
I do like the last one. Let the fans ruin it. But still. After seeing something like Alex Rider prevented from becoming an awesome mainstream series, or Erigon being murdered and not becoming as popular as it should've been, or the wreckage that was the Mortal Instruments movie, or Ender's Game... If anything, people saw those and went, "Wow. Guess i'm not picking up that series. It sucks." Sure, they drew readers like me who refuse to watch before reading, but they didn't appeal to anyone else.
I can be understanding when films change certain aspects of movies because they have to. Mocking Jay Part 2, for example. they cut out a pretty awesome scene, but there was no way to incorporate it well. They also added a couple things, which helped give it flavor. With Game of Thrones, I still like it because I got to see characters flourish who didn't get much page time. Sure, they sacrificed some scenes between Bronn and Tyrion to get there, but oh well. I'll use GoT to counter it though. Then you get scenes from Season 4, where they had to Hollywood Jon Snow up for some reason. They had to make him the heroic one, when in the books he turned around and said how stupid this was. That I wasn't happy with. Does it make GoT a bad adaptation? No, because the story goes in the same direction for the most part. If they had completely changed the story though, then yes, it would suck.
If I signed up for something like that, I would have to see the screenplay before they filmed it, and be allowed to talk it over with them. If they refused to make any changes to the movie or make compromises or whatever, I would have to be allowed to back out. I'm all for meeting in the middle, and when interviewed, I would say exactly that. Not "Oh this movie is exactly how I imagined it!" More, "The director and I had completely different visions, but we found a middle ground. I hope you guys enjoy it." If I was denied that, and the project pressed forward, I think I'm within my rights to scream from rooftops.

Offline tebakutis

  • Falsely Puffed Up Rascal Pig and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Master Namer
  • ******
  • Posts: 2442
  • Total likes: 1747
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • www.tebakutis.com
Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2016, 06:01:33 PM »
Additionally, just because the author hates it does not actually make it a bad adaptation. It might not be their vision, but they didn't sign up for someone else to bring their vision to life, they signed a contact that in most cases states that someone else will bring their vision of the work to life. Also, an author can actively hinder the adaptation by interfering, making the movie or tv series full or not yet fully formed as its own thing. Not to argue about Fifty Shades of Grey quality, but the director had a vision for the movie which would have been very interesting and taken good ideas from the books and brought them out more - and E.L. James refused, because she'd been granted so much power she could go 'nope, do it like this'. Arguably, the movie is a lot worse for it.

In addition, most novel writers won't have experience of adapting for film/TV so are happy to back away and let other professionals do their thing adapting it for different media.

I think Ash and Cameron are both pretty close to my views on this. Granted, my day job is game design (which is hugely collaborative by its nature) so I'm used to developing ideas based on the input of multiple people, rather than insisting it be "my idea", but if you, as an author, agree to let someone make a movie adaption of your work ... and then bad-mouth it because they didn't do it the way you wanted them too ... that's not just unprofessional, it's not in your best interest.

If you want a career as a successful author, the last thing you want to do is poison relationships with your agent (who was likely involved in the discussions to make your book into a movie, if if that's popular) or a studio. If you get big enough to get a movie deal, then spend all your time tearing down the folks and movie, you're shooting your own career in the foot. Just accept that it's an adaption of your work.

Also, anyone who has done both screenwriting and novel writing will tell you they are very different beasts, with different approaches. Not all authors can do both well, and even the best book authors in the world might make terrible script writers. Book writing and script writing require different talents, even more so than switching genres. The way an author plotted a book may not translate to a watchable movie, just as the way movies are often plotted (because they can do so much with visuals) may not work in a book.

This is part of the reason the word "adaption" exists in regards to movies and shows based on books, and why movies and TV shows based on books most often say "based on the works of (Author Name)". Everyone on the entertainment side knows the movie won't be a shot for shot transcription of the book, and the author needs to realize that before she sells the rights to her book to a movie studio. In answer to the OPs question, this is why you don't see more authors badmouthing adaptions of their books.

A movie or TV studio (which employs dozens or hundreds of people and has to stick to a shooting schedule and budget) would be insane to give an author final approval over aspects of production. They'd never get their project complete. Moreover, just getting your book made into a movie gets your name out there, and even if it doesn't boost sales of the book on which it is based (which it almost certainly will, on name recognition alone) it's also a credit to your author name. And people will seek out your other books as a result.

MTV's The Elfstones of Shannara, for example, is vastly different from the book in lots of ways, but there are a large number of folks going out and buying Shannara books right now that never would have otherwise. This is why you won't see Terry Brooks bad-mouthing it (and in fact, he's been supportive of the changes, acknowledging the fact that the show is for a different audience than the book).

I doubt I'll ever be lucky enough to get anything I've written made into a show or movie. But if I did, I'd view it as an adaption inspired by my work, and nothing more. Just because an adaption exists doesn't change the fact that my book exists the way I wrote it.

Offline Nora

  • Dropped in from another planet avec son sourire provocateur - et Hades and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4584
  • Total likes: 3529
  • Gender: Female
  • The Explorer
    • View Profile
Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2016, 12:24:35 AM »
I do like the last one. Let the fans ruin it. But still. After seeing something like Alex Rider prevented from becoming an awesome mainstream series, or Erigon being murdered and not becoming as popular as it should've been, or the wreckage that was the Mortal Instruments movie, or Ender's Game... If anything, people saw those and went, "Wow. Guess i'm not picking up that series. It sucks." Sure, they drew readers like me who refuse to watch before reading, but they didn't appeal to anyone else.
I can be understanding when films change certain aspects of movies because they have to. Mocking Jay Part 2, for example. they cut out a pretty awesome scene, but there was no way to incorporate it well. They also added a couple things, which helped give it flavor. With Game of Thrones, I still like it because I got to see characters flourish who didn't get much page time. Sure, they sacrificed some scenes between Bronn and Tyrion to get there, but oh well. I'll use GoT to counter it though. Then you get scenes from Season 4, where they had to Hollywood Jon Snow up for some reason. They had to make him the heroic one, when in the books he turned around and said how stupid this was. That I wasn't happy with. Does it make GoT a bad adaptation? No, because the story goes in the same direction for the most part. If they had completely changed the story though, then yes, it would suck.
If I signed up for something like that, I would have to see the screenplay before they filmed it, and be allowed to talk it over with them. If they refused to make any changes to the movie or make compromises or whatever, I would have to be allowed to back out. I'm all for meeting in the middle, and when interviewed, I would say exactly that. Not "Oh this movie is exactly how I imagined it!" More, "The director and I had completely different visions, but we found a middle ground. I hope you guys enjoy it." If I was denied that, and the project pressed forward, I think I'm within my rights to scream from rooftops.

Hmm. I was one who saw Ender's Game and then picked up the books. I always assume that the book is going to be different, so if I like the concept, I give it a shot, in general.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Justan Henner

  • Barbarian who pronounces are, our and hour all the same way
  • Writing Group
  • Auror
  • ***
  • Posts: 1061
  • Total likes: 590
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Writers Object To Film Adaptations
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2016, 02:25:29 AM »
I gave Sword of Truth a shot after watching Legend of the Seeker, even though it was a pretty lackluster adaptation. But Ash is right. It's not professional. No one swindled these authors. They sold the rights.